Donor FAQs

What is Peninsula Food Runner's expectation from the donor?

  1. If you are the contact person representing your account, please have a back up person in place and notify Peninsula food Runners of this temporary change. Your site may already be set up for automatic food run donations. Adding a temporary contact person who is aware of our service will ensure donations are picked up, our volunteer’s experience goes smoothly, and the recipients receiving your generous food items.

  2. Peninsula Food Runners are an organization that works collaboratively with Donors, Volunteers and Recipients.

  3. If you choose to have regular food runs set up, please remember to cancel the food runs when there is no food, or when your are off site, or are close for the holidays. This will prevent unnecessary effort and waste of resources on the part of volunteers. You can also send a notification to

  4. Please be professional and kind with all the Volunteers. They are here to service you for free.

  5. Should a situation arise that makes you uncomfortable, please send an email to or call (415)826-6903.

How does the service work?

  • The Donor creates a one time account on our website.

  • When the account has been validated, Donor can begin the donating food immediately via our web application or phone app called ChowMatch.

  • The Donor schedules a food pickup, they request the date and time for pickup. The moment the request is submitted, ChowMatch finds a recipient match and notifies our pool of Volunteers. The very same moment that a Volunteer is assigned, both Donor and Recipient are notified via email that a food donation will be picked up and delivered at the Donor’s specified date and time.

The Logistics of Signing up as a donor

  1. Please set up an account at This is a one-time set up that would ask you a series of questions regarding your business and the donations.

  2. Wait to get activated. This is the period of time we look for recipients close to your vicinity. Usually, the turn around is quick or else feel free to inquire at

  3. Once you receive the activation email, access your account with your email and password and begin to schedule and donate.

  4. Schedule all the food runs for the week ahead of time. This is a one time set up as well. Make sure you state that all these runs are " Regular Weekly Runs". This signals the software to automatically regenerate next week's food run. When you submit your request for each day, the emails go out to all the volunteers to invite them to support your account.

  5. Please note that when you do not have any food to donate or would like to accumulate for the following day, you can cancel the present day food run. Make sure to state " "Cancel this time only" and not "cancel permanently". This will let the system to continue regenerating the food run for the following weeks.

  6. General Instruction: Please include details that a volunteer would need. Parking or instructions a volunteer needs such as texting or confirming food availability.

  7. Most importantly, please know a staff is available to assist. You can reach our program manager Liz at 650-996-2812 or PFR office number (415)826-6903 or Maria’s cell# (415)203-8389.

What are the guidelines for scheduling a food pickup?  

  • Please provide a minimum 2-hour window for " On-Call" or same day pick ups so that you can cast a wider net of volunteers to help.

  • For special week day or weekend events, please give at least a 2 day notice or call 415-826-6903 or send an email to

  • A late Friday afternoon pick up requires a longer notice to be successful. We highly encourage all donors to donate as early as possible and best by no later than 2 pm on Fridays.

  • When scheduling a food pickup request, we ask that you provide as much details regarding the food donation (lbs, types, vehicle size, hours for pick up, who to contacts and parking instruction) and description of the prepared food that is being donated (i.e. Mexican, Chinese).

  • Note: If you already have a regular food run schedule, you have the ability to cancel your food run request at the moment when you realize that there isn't enough food to donate online from your account. (This is best done ASAP when you realize cannot feed more than 10 or about 30 minutes before the food run is to take place. You can also contact your volunteer whose information is available in your email confirmation. ) This will prevent unnecessary trip for the volunteers and both the Volunteer and the Recipient will get the notice of the cancellation. Thank you for abiding to this green practice of preventing further waste in human resource and C02 pollution from cars.

Is there a minimum or maximum food donation?  

  • We ask that you have enough food to feed at least 10 people because most shelter starts at 10 and up.

  • If you have food that will feed fewer than 10 people, you can do a self drop-off at the following shelters.

  • We don’t have an upper limit on the amount of food you can donate. Multiple vehicles can be requested for one food run. However, if you anticipate your food donation will require more than 1 car load, please indicate that when you schedule a food pick-up through ChowMatch web application. If this is done less than 48 hours, please call the Peninsula Food Runner at (415)826-6903 and always leave a message.

What is an "on-call" versus "regular" food run?

  • A regular food run is a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly food pick-up that occurs at the same time and usually by the same volunteer. A regular food run is usually automatically scheduled by the ChowMatch system.

  • An on-call run is a one-time pickup that can get filled by any of our Volunteers. On-call runs are usually scheduled the day of or anytime during the week.

What are your operating hours?

Monday-Friday for both on-call and regular runs. Weekends for regular runs and special events. Our normal working hours are 8:00 am-5:00 pm working in conjunction with shelter and affordable housing hours. Please contact us at or 415-826-6903 for special events which require weekend or after hours pickups.

How should the food be package for transportation? 

  • It is important that all donated foods be packaged properly in sanitized food-safe containers provided by the Donor. If the caterer you are contracted with cannot provide you the containers, please consider bulk purchasing the trays from places like Costco and consider it as an expense for tax donations. Consult with your accountant regarding the tax write offs.

  • The food can be packaged in its original catering container or tray with either a foil or plastic cover that is taped up well. Serving spoons and tongs should be discarded and not be donated in the tray with the food. This unhygienic practice introduces contamination to the food.

  • When donating food with liquid, please drain the liquids from the solids (i.e. black beans liquid from the black bean). Additional Saran wrap to completely cover the pan will also prevent further leakage. Our volunteers use their own vehicle and they will thoroughly appreciate your gesture.

  • The consolidation of various foods into one pan would be best and more appealing for consumption if food is sectioned out versus all mixed in.  Consolidation of similar groups of food such as carbohydrates with carbohydrates and vegetables with vegetables etc.

  • To abide with the EPA guideline regarding food donations, using sharpie to include the following information on the trays for donations. Company's name, Date of Donations and Time of Donation. Please refrigerate the food immediately after packaging while waiting for the runner to pick up the food.  All food donations should be ready to go before the arrival of the Volunteer.

What are the food Safety handling information I should be aware of?  

Often when we cook at home or eat in a restaurant, we have surplus. To ensure that surplus are safe to eat, make sure the food is cooked to a safe temperature and refrigerate the leftovers promptly. Not cooking food to a safe temperature and leaving food out at an unsafe temperature are the two main causes of food borne illness. Safe handling of surplus is very important to reducing food borne illness.

  • If food is stored at room temperature, food should be picked up within 2 hours after completion of service and consumed within 4 hours.

  • Hot food can be placed directly in the refrigerator or be rapidly chilled in an ice or cold water bath before refrigerating. Cooling process and heating up process of food surplus to 165 degrees is equally important for food to be consumed safely.

  • Here are a couple examples of food donation scenario in order for food consumption to be safe: All assuming that hot food is serve in 2" deep trays which helps with the cooling down of the food.

  1. Food is delivered by a caterer at 11:30 am in an insulated containers and kept hot. 12 pm, food taken out of insulated containers, and served until 1:30 pm. Surplus food is donated at 1:30 pm. The food has started the cool down process from 12 pm and put into the refrigerator at 1:30 pm. The volunteer picks up the food at 2:00 pm and delivers the food to the recipient by 2:30 pm. At this point, the food has be consumed within 4 hours of "room temperature" and in this case it has to be consumed by no later than 4:30 pm. By just keeping food in the refrigeration you can buy time for food to be delivered and safe for consumption. Nevertheless, we still always recommend food be heated up to 165 degrees before consumption.

  2. Food is delivered by a driver of the restaurant at 11:30 am. 10 Trays of food is left on the kitchen counter. Food is served at 12 pm. 3 trays of food surplus is left untouched at 1:00 pm and lunch ends at 1:30 pm. The donor schedules a food run pick up at 1: 30pm- 2:30pm. At 1:30pm the donor still does not put the 3 trays of surplus food into the refrigeration. The food runner comes at 2 pm. The food has been at room temperature since 11:30pm. The food gets delivered by 2:30pm. The food has now been at room temperature for 3 hours. The recipient has to consume the food by 4pm or the food has to be heated up to 165 degrees to be consumed safely or discarded by 4pm. When in doubt, heat up the food to 165 degrees before consumption.

  • Potentially hazardous foods must be kept out of the danger zone (41°F - 135°F) for safety. Surplus food should be kept hot in insulated containers or cold in the refrigeration and both can be used to replenish food to feed employees during lunch.

  • Refrigerate the food immediately after serving while waiting for the runner to pick up the food.

Do you ever decline food donations? Are there any types of food that are not accepted?

  • We only accept all types of food that has been prepared in a commercial kitchen with all the stringent guidelines of food handling. You can do a self drop-off at the following shelters.

What areas do you service?

  • Peninsula Food Runners Organization services San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, which include these cities.

During the food pickup, how can I identify the Peninsula Food Runners volunteer?

  • Our volunteers may wear a Peninsula Food Runners t-shirt and/or Peninsula Food Runners name badge during food runs.

  • The confirmation email that the Donor receives provides the Volunteer’s name and contact information.

  • Some companies have created a log-in sheet for the Food Runner Volunteers as a security to keep track who is coming in and out of your premises.

Will the Volunteer bring a cart?

  • We highly encourage the Donor to invest in a cart. This will ensure the safety of Volunteers while transporting the Donor's food on the Donor premises. This is most critical when food is not located on the street level. (

Does the Volunteer need help loading the food?

  • Most Volunteers will not ask for help unless the load is more than they can carry. The food cart will come in handy here.

What happens when a Donor schedules a request but no Volunteer food runner signs up for the run?

  1. Our pool of Volunteers are pretty good about picking up food runs (95% rate), but there are times when we cannot find a Volunteer to pick up the food. Our non-profit organization currently relies 100% on our Volunteers to do our food runs. (This is one of the reason why we highly encourage that food be refrigerated immediately after the meal time has ended)

  2. If this happens, we ask that you store the food overnight in a refrigerator and re-schedule a new run for the following morning or until the next meal donation.

  3. An address to a local shelter is provided which will allow your employees the opportunity to drop-off the food on their way home. following shelters.

  4. Many corporations encourage their employees to Volunteer for local charities in the communities.

  5. Please consider signing up with Peninsula Food Runners' (PFR) employee program. PFR will help Donor track all donor's employees activities and will provide impact reports of their employees in the communities. ( This includes employee hours, provide the food runs, track the impact food rescued and service hours given back to the various shelters). Please contact

Can you guarantee a food run pick up? 

  • If you would like a guaranteed food run, please call (415)826-6903.

What is consider donating in "Good Faith"  Here are some examples in a Yes or No scenarios. 

  • Yes to donating food to feed more than 10 people. Any less can be refrigerated for following day pick up

  • Yes to whole fruits with blemishes. We love "Uuugly" fruits! :)

  • No to food donations stored in refrigeration more than 2 days and definitely "NO" to food that has accumulated through the week and donated in order to clean out the refrigeration. This is consider not giving in good faith.

  • No to food request runs for pick up that only consist of 1-2 tray of rice or bags of pita breads. These can be donated with the following day's food donations. This is also true for condiments.

  • Yes to expired drinks, snacks, protein bars because the past due date merely states the freshness and not the quality of the food. Once again, best donated along with the actual surplus meals.

Is there a cost for this service?

In 2019, we plan to implement a nominal fee for guaranteed service. 

  • Until now, we have relied 100% on Volunteers at every level of the organization. That includes our founders and staff who developed and maintain the web & mobile application, solicit donors, recruit volunteers, and reach out to shelters, as well as our wonderful Volunteers who pick up food donations and deliver it to shelters and neighborhood feeding programs.

  • But because of the PFR's rate of growth, we welcome any assistance in skills to help keep the organization running and sustainable. We are committed to remaining a mostly volunteer organization, and keeping our overhead as low as possible.

We also rely on financial contributions, fundraisers, and grants to help offset operating costs. Click here if you'd like to make a financial donation.

What are the most important features on ChowMatch that any donor should be aware off?

  1. Cancellation food run feature for the lack of food

  2. Updating donor account instructions for the volunteers

  3. Updating contact information as new personal takes over the responsibility of managing donations